Australian Artist


Luke Roberts – Kunstkamera an overview – Anna Pappas Gallery

Luke Roberts – Kunstkamera
an overview

Opening Drinks: Friday 1 August, 6pm
Until 30 August 2014

The curtain rises in August on the much-anticipated Luke Roberts exhibitionKunstkamera – an overview at Anna Pappas Gallery. This extensive presentation incorporates both floors of the gallery and includes photography, painting, video, sculpture and found objects providing a broad overview of the career of this icon of Australian art.

Major works from the AlphaStation/Alphaville series shown at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2010) and the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (2011) will be on display as well as works from Roberts’ AMOROMAproject resulting from his 2012 residency at the renowned British School at Rome.

Of course, no exhibition of Roberts’ work would be complete without highlighting his strong performance history. Over four decades Roberts has developed a world of elaborate mythology and multiple personas. Images of and items belonging to his most famous persona, Pope Alice, as well as some of Roberts’ other notable personas will feature in the exhibition. This year marks a significant milestone for Roberts’ celebrated persona Alice Jitterbug, who first visited the National Gallery of Victoria forty years ago in 1974. This timely overview contains a live performance element, an unorthodox occurrence within the commercial gallery setting yet one integral to the artist’s oeuvre and especially relevant during this historic anniversary.

Luke Roberts MFA was the Australian Fellow at PS1 MoMA, New York (1996-97). During the 1980s he lived in Amsterdam, Paris, Kassel and Berlin. He was an Australian representative in the 2nd Asia-Pacific Triennial (1996) and the Biennale of Sydney (2002). The National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, QAGOMA, and the Renia Sofia have collected his work. Luke was born in Alpha, Central Queensland his practice is concerned with constructs of history and gender and investigates marginalization and spirituality. HDH Pope Alice, his visionary performance persona, embodies his aspirations.

Anna Pappas Gallery
2-4 Carlton Street Prahran
Victoria 3181 Australia
Telephone +613 9521 7300

Mon to Fri 9–6 Sat 10–6

Alice Jitterbug at NGV – 40th anniversary



In May 1974 Alice Jitterbug alighted from the Balaclava tram and entered history by visiting the National Gallery of Victoria and later Upper Collins Street, Melbourne, where she was mistaken for Germaine Greer.

Mr Larry Strange, now Director, Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI), Phnom Penh, Cambodia was one of the witnesses to this event.

“I was there at the first sighting. It was 1974 and a brisk damp breeze blew down St Kilda Road on an autumn evening in Melbourne. Outside the National Gallery a Balaclava tram stopped and She appeared. She was Big, masses of rich jet black curls, towering over others, long shapely legs in platform heels, skirt split to the thigh, dark flashing eyes, vivid red mouth. She seemed other worldly, part goddess, part dervish, part whore. This was Alice Jitterbug, conceived and tempered in the stifling heat and repression of that distant northern city, searching for life and love in the cold south. Later that evening, an elderly gentleman, dapper in a three piece suit, approached her and asked, ‘Excuse me Miss, are you Germaine Greer?’. Alice was gracious, but non-committal. He apologised. She continued up along the ‘Paris end’ of Collins Street …”


Larry Strange

Asianist and traveller 2003


First published in 2003 as a postcard as part of Luke Roberts’ Entartete Kunst series

Great coverage of ‘Voice and Reason’ in critics’ picks

“Voice and Reason”
Stanley Place, Melbourne Street, south end of the Victoria Bridge)
May 18–April 21

View of “Voice and Reason,” 2013–14.

“Voice and Reason,” a collection-driven group show that concentrates on aesthetic exchanges between indigenous and nonindigenous Australian artists, extends this gallery’s focus on cultural integration, a mission it has pursued since the inauguration of the Asia-Pacific Triennial in 1993. Although the exhibition’s title and premise awkwardly cast indigenous Australian art in terms of vernacular culture—in contrast with the reason-oriented West—the show itself is subtler, employing astute spatial arrangements that contest past ethnographic representations of aboriginal culture.

The first two galleries are particularly arresting: These rooms feature a selection of Michael Boiyool Anning’s vibrant shield works from 2003, which are modeled on traditional North Queensland warfare objects; Margaret Preston’s Aboriginal Still Life, 1940, a painting that depicts a shield resembling one of Anning’s works; and Gordon Bennett’s Home decor (after Margaret Preston) no. 1, 1996, a canvas that appropriates Preston’s 1940 painting Aboriginal Still Life. Such curatorial decisions evoke colonialist and postcolonialist ideologies to reveal how both are largely defined through a symbolic reconfiguring of the past. Throughout the exhibition, such historically loaded configurations acquire additional nuances through their juxtaposition with surrounding works that spark more formal associations, as in Joe Ngallametta’s austere milkwood sculptures Thap yongk (Law poles), 2002–2003, and Brook Andrew’s ironic print Sexy and dangerous, 1996, both of which incorporate white handpainted lines.

Selected works from Luke Roberts’s photographic series “AlphaStation/Alphaville,” 2009, end the exhibition on a satirical note. For instance, in the diptych The Spearing (A) and (B), 2009, Roberts, dressed in a kitsch cowboy outfit, is depicted in the Australian bush reading a book titled Tyranny while fellow artist Richard Bell stands alongside in a white studio backdrop, menacingly aiming a spear in his direction. In the same gallery, Harriet Jane Neville-Rolfe’s watercolors from the early 1880s sensitively document the indigenous people of Alpha Station, Queensland, where Roberts’s photographs are set, providing a counterpoint typical of the exhibition’s inventive dialogical representation of Australian art.
— Wes Hill



…AMOROMA… BURNING LOVE at Milani Gallery


My first commercial solo showing since 2006 opens this week at Milani Gallery

…AMOROMA… BURNING LOVE at Milani Gallery

4-20 July 2013

Opening event 11th July

features work inspired by my residency at the British School at Rome, the Richard Bell and Gerry Connolly portraits entered into the Archibald Prize, a new presentation of Wunderkammer artefacts and two video works.

Video works: ‘The Visitation’ 2012 featuring Pope Alice’s mission to Vatican City. ‘Pope Alice presents Luke Roberts’ 1980 vintage footage of the opening performance of my pivotal 1980 exhibition. This video hasn’t been shown publicly before.



Voice and Reason: GoMA Brisbane


A selection of Luke Roberts’ work from AlphaStation/Alphaville is included in Voice and Reason at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The works were also on display in December 2011 as part of the James C Sourris Collection, which has been donated to the gallery.


GEZABETH (Gerry Connolly) – Archibald 2013 entry


This year I painted Gerry Connolly for the Archibald Prize.

E pluribus unum (Gerry Connolly)

E pluribus unum (Gerry Connolly) 2013, acrylic on canvas on board.  The paining is 1.2metres in diameter and shown here in the studio before being sent to Sydney.


Artist statement:

Gerry has been an interventionist in the socio-political scene of Australia and has substantially contributed to our view of ourselves and our relationship to our leaders. His many characterizations of high profile political figures and members of the Royal Family have ‘unraveled’ the mighty and powerful and humanized them for us.

Gezabeth: E pluribus unum / One from many

Gerry is especially well-known for his uncanny impersonation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. His brilliance in this role has tended to somewhat typecast him and dominate his repertoire.  I have taken this typecasting further in the work, presenting a trompe l’oeil Medal for Dramatic Excellence and Cultural Contribution. The portrait coins this extended phase (sic) in his brilliant career and highlights personal sovereignty, cultural currency and public identity.

Gerry has gained much notoriety in Australia and the UK, achieving great success at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, the Edinburgh Festival and the Adelaide Comedy Festival with his hit one-man shows. He has also made many film and TV appearances, including appearances on Fast Forward, Live and Sweaty and Kath & Kim, as well as his own series, The Gerry Connolly Show.

My Country:

‘My Country’ is a phrase we use with varying meaning and connection and references the often fraught subjects of nation, land ownership, land claim and sovereignty (personal, indigenous and State). In the context of the painting the words ‘My Country’, foregrounds ideas of birthplace, association and inherited position. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?

I first met Gerry in 1970 at high school when we were both residents at the Christian Brothers’ college, St Brendan’s, Yeppoon. We have remained friends ever since.

A poem from our schooldays ‘My Country’ by Dorothy MacKellar describes an enduring love for a sunburnt country bedeviled by flood and drought. Gerry grew up in such an environment in Theodore, Central Queensland and maintains strong links there.


footnote: Approximately forty (40) finalists are chosen each year from over 800 entries. This year my work wasn’t selected as one of the finalists. Last year my portrait In Mob We Trust (Richard Bell) was selected and caused somewhat of a sensation.


GoMA book launch and screening

Luke Roberts book launch


Invitation to Luke Roberts book launch


Join us for the launch of

Luke Roberts: Alphastation/Alphaville

2pm, Saturday 13 October 2012
Speakers: Daniel Mudie Cunningham and Luke Roberts

Australian Centre for Photography
257 Oxford Street Paddington

RSVP essential by 11 October 2012 to

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Pope Alice Wanted in Rome

BritishSR 13-6-2012 COPERTINA-8.qxp:What's On

Pope Alice on the cover of ‘Wanted in Rome’.

Luke is currently the Australian artist scholar at the British School at Rome. The Eternal City is fascinated with his performance persona Her Divine Holiness Pope Alice.

The mid-year exhibition of current BSR artists, “Wher you live now’, opened on 15th June and runs until 23rd June 2012.

The British School at Rome,

via Antonio Gramsci, 61

00197 Roma

BSR-Wher you live now

Finalist in Australia’s most extraordinary art event.


Each year, the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW judge the Archibald and Wynne Prizes, and invite an artist to judge the Sulman Prize (in 2011 it was Richard Bell).


image: In Mob We Trust (Richard Bell) acrylic on canvas and wood by Luke Roberts

This year Luke’s portrait of Richard is a finalist in the Archibald Prize, one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious art prizes. It’s awarded to the best portrait painting, preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics.

The Wynne Prize is awarded to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery, or figure sculpture, while the Sulman Prize is given to the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media.

Art, Anarchy & So Much More


Three Figures at the Bases of Crucifixions, photographic triptych


SX magazine, Sydney Letter to the Editor, 5 Sept 2011

Recently Anthony of Mosman asked if my work is art or anarchy (Letters, SX, August 29)? He states that my work and words are an “unbridled attack on the fundamental basis of our society”. And he also asked what is to fill the vacuum if we jettison Christianity?

My answer is, Christ-Consciousness could fill the vacuum. It is inclusive, whereas Christianity excludes. My work for the Blake Prize, which has caused anger among some Christians, is about Christ-Consciousness. Believe me, I understand Anthony’s concerns as I had to as a downcast, unhappy, gay youth renegotiate my own spiritual connection in rejecting Christianity in the 1970s. Whilst Jesus said nothing about homosexuality (a word not coined until the mid-nineteenth century) many of his followers seem obsessed with it. Jesus did however have much to say about love one another.

My “drag queen Christ” figure is inspired by existing evidence that Jesus spent years in India and Tibet and was influenced by teachings of the Buddha and Krishna. For example: “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (Luke 6:41-42) “The faults of others are easier to see than one’s own.” (Undanavarga 27:1) Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) “Consider others as yourself.” (Dhammapada 10:1)

All religious traditions offer a path to achieving Christ Consciousness, and people are free to find their own way. The path is open to anyone regardless of their tradition or sexuality, to become a living vessel of LOVE and TRUTH. Jesus never intended to be portrayed as an idol for us to revere so highly above ourselves that we cannot see the truth right there within each of us.

Spiritual awakening often requires a breakdown. It is time for a cultural reformation and a compete sea change in the way academia, clergy, governments and individuals view and understand our world. We need to set a foundation that unites the spiritual disciplines of East and West and reinterprets the past and acknowledges that we live amidst grand deceptions and aren’t alone in the Universe. Our great religious texts describe contact with extraterrestrial beings mistaken as gods.

As for the question of anarchy, anarchy doesn’t have to imply a complete lack of authority or organization, but can instead refer to a social cohesion lacking a state or a ruler. At the very least Christianity requires this kind of anarchy. As Pope Alice observes, “It’s not so much that the Roman Empire became Christian, but that Christianity became the Roman Empire”. With Chief Homophobe Benedict XVI as the current Caesar we are well overdue for a big wake up call.


Luke Roberts, artist

click to page 10

AlphaStation/Alphaville @ ACP


Luke’s highly successful show AlphaStation/Alphaville opened at the Australian Centre for Photography on Thursday 16th June 2011 at 6pm. The artist was present and addressed the opening crowd.

AlphaStation/Alphaville is exhibited as a joint partnership between the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane and the Australian Centre for Photography. It was shown at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane from Decmebr 2010 through January and February 2011. A publication on Luke’s work is currently in production at the Institute of Modern Art and will be launched later this year. Click invitation flyer below for easier reading.


Artist’s brush with infamy (Sun-Herald 12 June 2011)

Luke Roberts: AlphaStation/Alphaville (Time Out June 2011)


Luke Roberts, Wendy Arthole’s Wundercloset, The Andy Factor 1996, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne

A major Luke Roberts exhibition of new and early work, AlphaStation/Alphaville opened on 27th November at the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) in Brisbane.

There were be two separate main opening events.

a) Artist Talk at the Institute of Modern Art on Saturday 27th November at 2pm. Open to the public. Luke was in conversation with Michele Helmrich, Acting Director and Curator of the University of Queensland Art Museum (UQAM).

b) The Opening Night was listed in conjunction with the Members Cocktail Party on Saturday 4th December from 7-10pm. This was for members of the Institute of Modern Art and invited guests.

The exhibition is open to the public (Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 5pm) from 27th November until the end of February 2011. The IMA closes in late December until late-January.

Luke is known for his performance installation and painting practice. The current show is photo-based work dating from 1965 until the present, which draws on his experiences growing up in Outback Queensland, his sexuality and his spirituality.

Celebrating Mary MacKillop


“My Childhood Vision of Mother Mary MacKillop galloping past the Alpha Convent bringing more Joeys to Central Western Queensland” was painted in 1994 for the exhibition “Mother Mary: A Tribute” held at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney to celebrate the beatification of Mother Mary MacKillop announced by Pope John-Paul II in Sydney in 1995.

Until now there hasn’t been any print made of this acclaimed painting other than a postcard commissioned by the Alpha/Jericho Shire Council. A high quality giclee print edition on watercolour paper, personally signed by me as the artiat, is now available.

The original painting from 1994 hangs in the office of St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane generously on loan from its owner, a private collector. This painting was viewed and discussed by Pope John-Paul II in 1995 at the Powerhouse Museum, where it won second prize in the exhibition Mary MacKillop: A Tribute. This exhibition celebrated the beatification of Mother Mary MacKillop announced by Pope John-Paul II during his visit to Australia that year.

A second version of the painting, known as the Madrid Version is in the Parliament House Collection, Canberra. The Madrid Version was painted in 1995 for exhibition in Spain in 1996 at ARCO, an international artfair.

The original painting was made in 1994 and is unusually similar to a portrait of Kylie Minogue made by the French photographers Pierre et Gilles a year later in 1995.

Priny available on the Merchandise page

University announces ‘papal appointment’

‘The Morning Bulletin’, 24 August, 2010

Luke Roberts, Queensland’s most eccentric contemporary artist

Luke Roberts: ‘Adolph’, self-portrait,

photographic performance, camera: John Elliott

Fresh views of the face in the mirror

* Louise Martin-Chew

* From: The Australian

* December 11, 2009 12:00AM

National Artists’ Self-Portrait Prize: The University of Queensland Art Museum, St Lucia, Brisbane. Open daily, 10am-4pm. Tel: (07) 3365 3046. Until January 24, 2010.

PORTRAITURE is a proven crowd-pleaser in Australia, but the added dimension that comes when artists depict themselves — particularly artists not generally known for figurative images — makes the second National Artists’ Self-Portrait Prize fascinating viewing.

Hosted biennially at the University of Queensland Art Museum, the prize is open to artists by invitation only.

All entries must be new works, purpose-made for the exhibition. The prize allows entries in all media, and this encourages a fluid interpretation of self-portraiture, with some startling results.

A sack of used syringe vials, bound and hung with string, titled Vial Queen, 2009, by Dani Marti, makes a bold statement as an opening work.

Related Coverage

* Artists examine inner lives Courier Mail, 10 days ago

* Self-preservation taken at face value The Australian, 29 Nov 2009

* Video portrait wins award Courier Mail, 27 Nov 2009

* Young modern The Australian, 28 Aug 2009

* Why this artist is ruling the roost Adelaide Now, 18 Aug 2009

The form of portrait is compelling, with a poignant personal resonance for the artist. The plump droop of the sack containing the vials and the gleaming silver and glass refer to the fragility of all life.

The winning work, which takes a prize of $50,000, is a DVD by Julie Rrap.

At first glance, the image of Rrap’s face may seem a static projection on the wall, but subtle changes to the face emerge, suggesting an emotionally charged response to some unseen force. Its title, 360 self-portrait, refers to the way in which it was produced.

Rrap, known for her performative work, was filmed as her body was moved through 360 degrees, so the change in her facial expression reflects the cycling weight of her physical body.

The University of Queensland Art Museum prize is acquisitive, judged this year by Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, director of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and the multimedia addition to the collection reflects the current interest in artist DVDs and video art, visible in contemporary art generally and the university’s collection.

There are some fairly traditional self-portraits in the prize — Heidi Yardley’s image of a dark-haired girl sporting a large red floating mark suggests the autobiographical source of much of her imagery, and Rick Amor’s muted palette is not a great distance from his usual mode of work (although the gridded canvas is unusual). However, much of the exhibition shows artists stepping outside their usual mode or genre.

TV Moore paints himself As Ian Fairweather, 2009, casting himself as the solitary figure of Queensland’s celebrated hermit.

Queensland’s most eccentric contemporary artist, Luke Roberts, has also contributed a self-portrait with a historical source, although in taking on the guise of Adolph, he continues his interest in messing with society’s sacred cows. In this large photograph, in which Roberts is almost unrecognisable at first, he uses the bristles of a paintbrush to form the characteristic moustache of Adolf Hitler. His expression is surprised, “sad but frustrated”, an “at the easel look”, according to Roberts, whose work as a painter has generally been eclipsed by his other activities as a performance and installation artist.

Other strong images which are all the better for their stepping outside the artists’ usual oeuvre include Lindy Lee’s Budhi and Me, 2009, in which a female figure sits on an elephant.

It is painted in Chinese ink, and holes are burnt into the paper that appear to drip downwards. It is a highly evocative representation of an artist known for her darkly abstract images.


In the 35 works in this exhibition, many of Australia’s strongest contemporary artists are represented, with images that reflect and stretch their usual practice. It is highly engaging and bodes well for the prize continuing to be a lively force.

Pope Alice in DNA

An image of HDH Pope Alice is featured in the current DNA magazine #118. The image is on page 86 in an article on gay art entitled ‘Fairytales” by Joseph Brennan. DNA is available in most newsagents in Australia.

End of year exhibitions featuring work by Luke Roberts

NATIONAL ARTISTS’ SELF-PORTRAIT PRIZE 2009, University of Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

27 November 2009 – 24th January 2010 (gallery closed 21 December – 10 January)

Artists invited: Rick Amor, Brook Andrew, Del Kathryn Barton, Lyndell Brown & Charles Green, Peter Churcher, Lucy Culliton, eX de Medici, Julie Dowling, Marian Drew, McLean Edwards, Leah Emery, Fiona Foley, Shaun Gladwell, Peter Graham, Cherry Hood, Lindy Ivimey, Leah King-Smith, Sam Leach, Lindy Lee, Rhys Lee, Fiona Lowry, Gabriella & Silvana Mangano, Amanda Marburg, Dani Marti, Tim McMonagle, TV Moore, Dennis Nona, Scott Redford, Charles Robb, Luke Roberts, Julie Rrap, Darren Siwes, Martin Smith, Christian Thompson, Alick Tipoti, Judy Watson, William Yang, Heidi Yardley.


QUIRKY: FROM THE COLLECTION, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle

12 December 2009 – 31 January 2010

An 8 metre banner advertising the show and featuring Pope Alice will hang in front of the gallery during the exhibition

artists included:

James Angus

Hany Armanious

Peter Atkins

Lionel Bawden

Michael Bell

Dallas Bray

Tony Clark

Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy

Michael Cusack

Aleks Danko

Juan Davila

Mikala Dwyer

McLean Edwards

Dale Frank

Newell Harry

Patricia Piccinini

Scott Redford

Luke Roberts

Kate Rohde

Gareth Sansom

Andrew Sibley

John Turier

Peter Tyndall

Daniel von Sturmer

Jenny Watson


ALTERED EGO, Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore

18 December 2009 to 13 February 2010.

Artists: Anastasia Klose, Lauren Brincat, Danielle Freakley (the Quote Generator), Luke Roberts (aka Pope Alice), Tobin Saunders (AKA Vanessa Wagner), Mark Shorter (Tino la Bamba), Tom Polo, Laith McGregor, Emily Portmann and Christian Thompson


QUEENSLAND ART, David Pestorius Projects

5 December 2009 – 20 February 2010

Pestorius Sweeney House

39 Eblin Drive, Hamilton

Brisbane 4007


opening events 5th December 2009 from 3pm


Screening of Transformer (1977–2004) and Nazissus (1983) by Luke Roberts with a short introduction by Michele Helmrich

Afternoon events include screenng and performance work by other artists: Janet Burchill & Jennifer McCamley, Janelle Hurst, John Nixon, Gary Warner, Ed Kuepper, the Deadnotes …..


A LIMITED EDITION photographic performance PRINT will also be available at MILANI GALLERY as part of the gallery’s Christmas show.



Collection Queensland Art Gallery 1995

The cabinets were originally exhibited as part of Wunderkammer/Kunstkamera at the Queensland Art Gallery 1994-95

All Souls of the Revolution at the National Gallery of Australia

Luke Roberts’ work All Souls of the Revolution is currently in the exhibition Soft Sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia

‘soft sculpture’ exhibition currently on show at national gallery of australia looks at the ways artists use unconventional materials to challenge the nature of sculpture. visitors will see works made from cloth,

rope, paper, hair, leather, rubber or vinyl. the objects may droop, ooze or splash. they are fluffy, squishy

or bent. they surround, suffocate and astonish and, in many cases, make us laugh.

it includes sculptures and installations by eva hesse, robert morris, claes oldenburg, robert rauschenberg,

joseph beuys and annette messager, and works by australian artists such as mikala dwyer, david jensz. luke roberts

and ricky swallow. the exhibition will run till 12 july 2009.


All souls of the revolution 1976-94

mixed media

not signed, not dated

dimensions variable

Purchased 1996

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

NGA 1996.730.1-346


Luke Roberts’s practice embraces painting, performance, photography and video, as well as a peculiar form of curatorship. His Wunderkammer (literally ‘room of wonders’ or ‘miracle chamber’) replicates the magic of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century curiosity cabinets, the splendour of Victorian museums―with accompanying post-colonial ‘baggage’―and embraces chance encounters of the strange and commonplace.[1] Roberts celebrates kitsch and discourse on the Exotic, reinventing the cabinet of curiosities with conquests from op-shops, museum storage, antiquarian markets—and outer space. His Wunderkammer exists not in a private or museum collection but conceptually as an ever-expanding catalogue of items which will, eventually, encapsulate the whole world.[2]

All souls of the revolution 1976–94 comprises about 350 dolls, clowns, gollywogs, rabbits, bears and other animals made of knitted wool, fabric, fur or synthetic materials. Originally part of the Wunderkammer/Kunstkamera project,[3] the work is hung high, in a frieze-like manner, extending above the line of the viewer’s eye to the ceiling. Roberts has compared his collection of toys to wingless angels, to the cupids and putti that adorn Baroque and Rococo ceilings.[4] The flamboyant theatricality of these styles encapsulates Roberts’s aesthetic approach. He also connects the sacred and the profane, drawing our attention to the apparent disjunction between ecclesiastical interiors and commonplace objects. Indeed, toys (either handmade or mass-produced in a factory) have a particular place in his oeuvre: these special friends now rejected or lost stand for the loss of childhood innocence, lives lost to AIDS and other scourges of the twentieth century.

The commemorative function of All souls of the revolution is reminiscent of roadside memorials, particularly the descanso tradition in which memorials are decorated for specific holidays, or those for children incorporating special toys. Roberts reminds us of the special role of toys and other gifts: handmade and homemade objects encapsulate the love between an adult and a child, and the child often perceives his or her world through such gifts. The objects in All souls of the revolution are intriguing, even if only for their sheer diversity. The intensity of their melange of colours and materials—efforts which are sometimes more indicative of sincerity than talent or skills—celebrates naiveté, the folkloric and the marginal, as well as ritualised spaces from cave paintings to church interiors.

All souls of the revolution takes its names from All Souls’ Day (2 November), a day that loomed large for the Catholic-educated Roberts. Also important for the artist are the visual and emotive resonances with Mexico, and Spanish-American traditions of the Days of the Dead (Dias de los Muertos), the collective celebration of Allhallows eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.[5]

These toys form an understanding of, and a basis to concepts of mythology. They awaken within the child the capacity to be bigger than oneself, to project into another world … The passing of childhood is usually our first contact with death. The child we once were is lost and the remnants of our childhood are the archaeological evidence or fragments of its existence (Memory).

Roberts’s All souls of the revolution is both appealing in its immediacy, and as an embodiment of ‘otherness’. It also encapsulates an immensely political message: the power of group action and collective memory. The struggle against heterogeneity is not over yet, but when the revolution does come, it will be queer, extraordinary, full of love—and very, very funny.

Lucina Ward


International Painting and Sculpture

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

[1] Michele Helmrich, ‘Wunderkammer/Kunstkamera, Luke Roberts’, Eyeline no 27, autumn/winter 1995, pp 22–27. Roberts has produced a number of Wunderkammer and one of the earliest was in 1990, at the State Library of Queensland, Brisbane; another, in the following year at Perspecta, comprised four cabinets, one of which, Wunderkammer: the voyage within the wonderful continues… 1991–94, is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney. In 1994–95 Roberts’s largest project to date was installed at the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, and in 1996 he produced an ‘Asian’ Wunderkammer for the Queensland Art Gallery’s Second Asia Pacific Triennial; both QAG projects are described by Timothy Morrell, in ‘The people’s pope: Luke Roberts’, Art and Australia, vol 35, no 2, 1997, pp 226–233

[2] Michele Helmrich, ‘Luke Roberts’, The second Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1996 p 121

[3] As Helmrich points out, Wunderkammer/Kunstkamera makes ‘a word-play of the ancient and the modern: the Greek kamara, the Latin for vault, camera, chamber (in camera), camera obscura, on camera. Further, Kunstkamera is a variation on Kunstkammer, those collections contemporary with the Wunderkammer which prioritised “art” and the artificial―Kunst being German for “art”. The title gives focus to the museum and the camera, and their repertoire of images.’ Quoted from Vanitas: Pope Alice presents Luke Roberts, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 1999, n17, p 23; see also Helmrich in The second Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1996 p 121

[4]The artist’s comments on the work are also drawn from this 1996 statement; see NGA 96/0183, folio 9

[5] In some areas of South America, a distinction is made between 1 November as the day to honour children and adults—Day of the Innocents (Día de los Inocentes) or Day of the Little Angels (Día de los Angelitos)—and 2 November as the day for deceased adults

Roberts cites Frida Kahlo as a key influence; she also features in his performance work

Morimura, Mishima and Roberts at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Luke Roberts’ work 1+1=8 was on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 24 November until the 9 March 2008.

The work is presented in alongside a recently acquired DVD work by Yasumasa MORIMURA Seasons of Passion/A Requiem: Mishima (2006) as well as his Slaughter Cabinet II installation. Also featured are the books Barakei (Ordeal by Roses) and Barakei (Killed by Roses) from 1971 and 1963 respectively, which were collaboratively produced by Eikoh HOSOE, Yukio MISHIMA and Tadanori YOKOO.

Curated by Judy Annear, this installation focuses on issues to do with selfhood, desire, beauty and destruction. The works move through various histories, divinities, masculinities, fantasies and fictions – eventually realising a destination that is somewhere near the ‘city not to be found on the map of any land, a city of awesome silences’ where Mishima first imagined himself. Inherently preoccupied with the performance of identity, each of the artists acts as their own model; paradoxical models who are both looked at and looking back.

Shifting across continents, the artists deconstruct a notion of historical figures as contemporary icons, encompassing the clashes of East and West, colonial and capital, cultural and commercial, that have defined late 20th century and early 21st century history.

Der australische Gegenpapst

Archiv » 2008 » 19. Juli » Seite 1

Der australische Gegenpapst

Von Jörg Schmilewski
July 2008

Fast vierzig Jahre ist es her, dass Luke Roberts seinen Pope Alice erfunden hat. Es ist eine Kunstfigur, die zumeist die liturgischen Gewänder des Papstes trägt. Ihr Gesicht erinnert an einen Außerirdischen. An diesem Wochenende wird sie einen großen Auftritt haben: bei den Protesten, die den Weltjugendtag im australischen Sydney begleiten. Am Sonntag werden Papstfreunde wie -gegner alles aufbieten. Hinter der Maske von Pope Alice steckt ihr Erfinder – Luke Roberts, ein 55 Jahre alter Künstler. Er gehört zum Führungsteam der No-to-Pope-Coalition. Das Nein-zum-Papst-Bündnis kritisiert die restriktive Haltung der katholischen Kirche zu Sex und Verhütung; viele Homosexuelle, Atheisten, Menschenrechtler und kircheninterne Papstkritiker haben sich der Bewegung angeschlossen. Die Koalition setzt sich für eine Trennung von Kirche und Staat, für Abtreibung und Frauenrechte, Kondombenutzung und gleichgeschlechtliche Liebe ein. Luke Roberts Stimme klingt erleichtert: Gerade eben hätten sie einen weiteren Sieg errungen, sagt er. Seine Anti-Papst-Bewegung habe vor der Großdemonstration in Sydney “ein freundschaftliches Verhältnis” zur Polizei herstellen können. Eigentlich war eine unangenehme bis ernsthafte Konfrontation mit der Staatsmacht zu erwarten gewesen. Es ist erst ein paar Tage her, da erhielt Roberts Anrufe von der Polizei. “Sie wollten Proteste frühzeitig unterbinden”, sagt er. Sondergesetze der Regierung von New South Wales hatten eine Atmosphäre gegenseitigen Misstrauens geschaffen. Jede antikatholische oder papstkritische Meinungsäußerung, jeder T-Shirt-Aufdruck sollte mit umgerechnet bis zu 3 300 Euro bestraft werden. Doch dann hob ein Bundesgericht das Gesetz wieder auf, weil es die Meinungsfreiheit zu sehr eingeschränkt sah. Geklagt hatte Rachel Evans, die wie Roberts zu den Mitbegründern von No To Pope zählt. Roberts stammt aus einem katholischen Elternhaus. Er wuchs in dem kleinen Ort Alpha auf, im riesigen Bundesstaat Queensland. Heute lebt er als Künstler in der im Nordosten Australiens gelegenen Stadt Brisbane, er bekennt sich zu seiner Homosexualität und zum Atheismus. Mitte der achtziger Jahre zog er nach Paris und Amsterdam, eine Zeit lang lebte er auch in Berlin. Freudig kramt er ein paar Brocken Deutsch aus seinem Gedächtnis hervor. Den deutschen Papst Benedikt schimpft er indes “den obersten Homophoben”. Den Einfluss der Katholiken in Australien hält Roberts für übergroß. Er rätselt, warum das Parlament von New South Wales der katholischen Kirche 120 Millionen Dollar zur Ausrichtung des Weltjugendtags geschenkt habe, “einer Organisation, die ganz offenbar über genügend Geld verfügt”. Auch dagegen will das Nein-zum-Papst-Bündnis protestieren. “Pope Alice’s Kiss In” nennt sich eine Kundgebung in Sydney, bei der nun legal Kondome verteilt werden dürfen. —————————— Foto: Pope Alice alias Luke Roberts vom No-to-Pope-Bündnis